NEW DELHI: India on Wednesday remembered Mahatma Gandhi on the occasion of his 144th birth anniversary with top leaders paying floral tributes at his memorial.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani were among prominent leaders who paid homage to Father of the Nation.
The Congress president was the first to arrive at Rajghat to pay tributes to Mahatma Gandhi and were followed by BJP leader LK Advani and his daughter Pratibha.
After a while, the prime minister arrived at Rajghat and paid floral tributes at the Gandhi Samadhi.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit also paid trubutes to the Mahatma Gandhi.
Other dignitaries who visited Rajghat include Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath, senior Congress Leaders Mani Shankar Aiyar and Manikrao H. Gavit among others.
An all-religion prayer was conducted during the ceremony. The favourite hymns of Gandhi were also played on the occasion.
The nation also remembered former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri on his 109th birth anniversary.
President, vice president, prime minister, Sonia Gandhi and Advani also paid floral tributes to Shastri, who gave the slogan “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan,” at his memorial at Vijay Ghat.
Shastri’s sons Anil Shastri and Sunil Shastri were also present at the ceremony.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called on people across the world to be inspired by the courage of Mahatma Gandhi and his resonant legacy of non-violence to peacefully oppose oppression, injustice and hatred.
In his message for the International Day of Non-Violence, Ban said, on this day “I call on global citizens everywhere to be inspired by the courage of people like Mahatma Gandhi.”
“Gandhi showed the power of peacefully opposing oppression, injustice and hatred.
“His example has inspired many other history-makers such as Martin Luther King, Vaclav Havel, Rigoberta Menchu Tum and Nelson Mandela.”
“Today we celebrate the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi and his resonant legacy of non-violence,” the UN secretary general said in a statement.
He said one needs courage to stand up to those who use violence to enforce their will or beliefs.
“It requires resolve to stand against injustice, discrimination and brutality and to demand respect for diversity and fundamental human rights,” Ban said, adding that non-violence needs leaders backed by an army of brave people prepared to demand peace, freedom and fairness.
“The United Nations stands for the peaceful resolution of disputes and the end to all forms of violence, whether state-sponsored or embedded in culture and practice, such as the violence and intimidation women and girls endure in all regions.
“Ending such violence can start with each of us in homes, schools and workplaces.
“Violence can be contagious, but so can peaceful dialogue,” UN secretary general said in a statement and asked people to “turn your back to division and hatred; stand up for what is right and just.”
Press Trust of India